Airport expansion plans could invade North Herts

PUBLISHED: 10:47 06 October 2011 | UPDATED: 15:14 13 October 2011

Airplane. Picture by Sean MacEntee @Flickr

Airplane. Picture by Sean MacEntee @Flickr

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A COUNCIL is proposing to treble the number of people using Luton Airport a year, sparking fears that it could impact on land in North Herts.

Luton Borough Council (LBC), the main shareholder of London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL), is considering the airport’s future.

At an Executive meeting, it said that it wants to increase the annual passengers to 18 million - almost double the current number, with a view to increasing up to 30 million passengers a year later on.

The former plan - dubbed the Red Line scheme - would not require any works in Hertfordshire, but would lead to an increase in people using the county’s roads as well as more noise from additional flights across flight paths in the area, including Stevenage, Hitchin and Baldock.

The second plan, known as the Master Plan, would, by the borough council’s own admission, require development to the land to the east of Luton, which is within the North Herts boundary.

North Herts District Council councillor David Barnard, who has campaigned to keep the green belt from being built on in other development plans, said that if the airport was to increase its capacity, there would be serious implications for people in North Herts.

“18 million passengers is about double what they are doing at the moment,” said Cllr Barnard.

“You haven’t got all the transport that is required to service those plans, let alone all the passengers that have got to get to the airport using Hertfordshire roads. They aren’t built for it.

“The ‘Master Plan’ will extend into North Herts land. This is something that has not been sent to us.

“Quite simply, they (LBC) should not be talking about this without consulting their neighbours, who will mostly be affected. It will be people in Herts who will be majorly affected.

“It’s all very new to us. We’ve got to investigate and make a noise about it.”

LBC also agreed at its meeting to procure specialist advisors for planning, general engineering and overall project management.

It has described the matter as “timely and urgent”, and has said that is keen to act fast to avoid delaying the airport’s redevelopment.

Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (LADACAN) held a meeting last night (Wednesday) in relation to the proposals.

Spokesman Peter Hunt said: “It’s a bolt out of the blue. We have been here before and previously seen expansion plans.

“These things are always difficult. At the end of the day, it’s in an unusual place, not convenient for anybody. None of the problems that existed before have gone away.

“For certain groups, it will be potentially a bit of a nightmare.”

A LBC spokesman said that its first objective would be to consider the capacity that can be created within the existing airport boundary, estimated at 18 million.

The capacity that could be created in the future, if the airport were not constrained by its current boundary, will also be assessed.

Cllr Robin Harris, chairman of LLAL, added: “London Luton Airport is without doubt the single biggest asset owned by the people of Luton and it’s imperative for our future prosperity that the airport continues to grow to its full potential. This is about delivering jobs and economic growth not only to our town but surrounding areas as well.

“We believe the Government’s forecast significantly underestimates the contribution that London Luton Airport can make to the national, regional and local economy.

“Airport expansion will only take place if it is justified by market demand, and any proposals that are brought forward will be subject to the required consultation with all key stakeholders, including neighbouring local authorities.

“Impacts on the environment and traffic will also be fully evaluated as part of the process, to ensure the airport’s growth continues to be as sustainable and cost-effective as it always has been.”


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